Representations of Female Athletes in Sports Nutrition Advertising

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British Medical Journal, , e Journal of Sport Management, 25, Nutritionists will also develop plans to help their clients achieve fitness and nutritional goals. Sports nutrition market data. Learn We will teach you how the right mindset, training and nutrition will transform your body or game. The real physical changes happen between rather than during workouts. There is little overlap between them.

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The 4 Most Important Sports Nutrition Rules for Athletes

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend 2. For athletes and active Australians, dairy foods offer extra benefits. This unique composition means milk, cheese and yoghurt can be used as targeted sports foods in a range of situations around exercise. Hydration is particularly important in hot conditions, as dehydration can reduce performance and increase perceived effort or discomfort associated with exercise.

Dairy foods like flavoured milk, ye and are low in fibre, helping to maximise gut comfort. Some athletes worry that dairy foods before sport will cause gut problems - but recent research has debunked this myth.

A study in competitive female cyclists compared gut comfort and performance when they ate either a breakfast containing three serves of dairy or January ilar meal that was dairy free. The study found there were no negative effects on gut comfort or sporting performance — even with daily da iry recommendations concentrated into a single meal before a strenuous cycling workout.

This provides muscles with the building blocks needed for effective recovery. Milk, cheese and yoghurt can contribute to several recovery goals by providing valuable amounts of the important nutrients. Ensure recovery foods are on hand when you need them by using an insulated lunch box or freezer pack to keep foods chilled, or trying UHT products.

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Each of these is discussed in more detail in connection with examples from the data. This study was an interpretive analysis 6 of packaging, websites and commercials for 26 of the most commonly available and widely advertised sports foods and beverages in the U.

It combined qualitative analysis with quantitative coding and descriptive statistics. This process generated quantitative instruments used to code visual, auditory, and textual data based on mutually exclusive and exhaustive criteria that signified meaning in the various media 6. These included colors, images, actions, and words, common categories used in the examination of visual culture Two samples were coded, one in June , another in June The first included packaging, websites, and 20 commercials from — The second included a re-coding of packaging and websites from the earlier sample if available , along with a new sample of 14 commercials from — Twenty-eight variables were coded for packaging, 52 for websites, and 32 for commercials.

Frequency tables were generated for each variable within media type and correlations were run for selected variables, such as claims to improved athletic performance in conjunction with particular words and images.

Packages were coded according to flavor purchased with variations noted across all flavors of the product. These included links to product information, sponsored athletes, teams, events, and research. Television commercials were downloaded from the internet and viewed using QuickTime, where action and verbal content were coded in seconds and recorded as percentages of total length.

Variables included the percentage of time an athlete was in view, competing, training, speaking, or doing something else i. Verbal content was coded according to speaking time, gender, and ethnicity of the speaker. Commercials were transcribed verbatim and coded for qualitative themes using the constant comparative method Sports drinks accounted for the highest overall sports nutrition sales in 69 , and are expected to be the most important contributor to projected growth Powerade is gaining market share 66 , with U.

The two sports drinks also sponsor a number of high profile athletes, including women, and employ them in their advertising, rendering it particularly useful for analyzing visibility and representation of female athletes in the largest commercial market segment for sports nutrition. Television commercials for these brands form a significant component of the data analyzed here. Given that only two products in sample featured images of athletes on their packaging, and neither featured females, packaging will not be addressed in detail here.

In addition, one product in the original sample, Iron Girl bars by PowerBar, is no longer in production, and Iron Girl triathlon events are now sponsored by Athleta. LUNA bars also now feature images of ingredients in place of silhouettes of dancing women on product packaging. As such, although both Iron Girl and LUNA bars were marketed using highly feminized imagery and text in the sample, both will only be used as a point of comparison and not extensively analyzed here.

The wealth of visual and textual data in the samples resulted in an analysis too extensive for a single article. A previous publication from the data addressed the ways images of successful athletes are used to sell unhealthy food and drink as fuel for athletic competition 60 , while another highlighted the dangers of sports nutrition supplements Results and discussion here will use data from both samples and focus solely on differences in feminine representation between sports nutrition advertising and televised sports coverage.

The increase in the number of websites featuring female athletes occurred in spite of one product in the original sample no longer hosting a web site, another switching to only images of products, and one site having been subsumed into the site of its parent company. Female athletes exhibited their strongest presence on websites. The most commonly portrayed sport was road cycling 44 males, 6 females , followed by running 8 males, 3 females , with rock climbing, mountain biking, and triathlon represented to a lesser degree.

There was, however, a far greater variety of sports represented, 22 in all, including newly popular sports such as stand-up paddle boarding and snowshoe racing. Gender neutrality of sport appeared less important, as sports stereotypically coded as male i. The age range of athletes, most of whom were in their twenties in the sample, also expanded, as did the range of ability levels. Both samples of commercials were dominated by Gatorade and Powerade, which, in the sample, tended to feature male athletes from professional and collegiate basketball 24 of 37 male athletes , as well as pro and college football.

There were, however, two Powerade spots created for the London Summer Olympics that included female track athletes. Again, women were underrepresented, this time at a ratio of nearly nine to one. They did, however, appear in some of the most widely televised and shared ads, so their impact was likely more than their numbers suggest, something discussed in more detail below. Commercials in the sample included female athletes in tennis, soccer, beach volleyball, and boxing, while males were represented by football, basketball, track, boxing, weight training, and calisthenics.

The ways in which female athletes were portrayed was also quite different from what is the case in televised sports coverage. Representation Bruce 14 revisits several techniques that continue to be employed in televised sports media with regard to its representation of female athletes. For the most part, these devices were not a part of sports nutrition advertising. Compulsive heterosexuality was also absent, as female athletes were pictured alone, in competition or training, wearing sport appropriate clothing that was functional, rather than sexy, leaving their sexuality and relationships off screen.

Being pretty does not sell sports nutrition. Hence, Serena Williams, not Anna Kournikova, was featured more than any other female athlete in the sample, and other highly successful athletes, including Sharapova, Jessica Ennis and Hope Solo appeared in the earlier sample.

In other ways, it was similar, if more subtle. Marginalization, segregation, and other semiotic devices Many commercials featuring women marginalized them in terms of male to female athlete ratio and screen time.

Representation in the virtual world signifies social existence, while the absence of representation for women encourages audiences to form a view of sport where women are symbolically absent, even though they are present in large numbers 29, The female athlete, however, only makes it onscreen for 4.

Women and men are shown in equal numbers four each , with female athletes represented by a runner, a tennis player, and two soccer players.

Athletes appear onscreen for 59 seconds of the second ad. However, women were at times portrayed in ways that reinforced male dominance in sport, as when two runners, a black female and a white male, are shown running together in the PowerBar ad, the only instance of women and men training together in either sample.

The female athlete, however, is shown running behind the male for The split second in which she is shown leading him is so brief both coders missed it in real time, only discovering it in later frame-by-frame analysis.

Leaving aside the intersectionality 23 of race and gender, her being behind him nearly the entire time normalizes the idea that men are naturally faster than women. None of the women of sports nutrition were shown in passive poses, as fashion models might be 36, Instead, they were actively training, competing, and sweating like the men who appeared in the same commercials, presenting a view of relative gender equality.

The two genders, however, rarely inhabited the screen at the same time, reflecting gender segregation in the non-virtual world in which men and women are often spatially separated when they perform the same tasks The other 29 athletes are shown engaged in competition, wearing uniforms and playing in front of enthusiastic crowds. In contrast, Williams is depicted practicing her serve, alone, in an empty stadium wearing leggings and a tank top.

Cutting between the two presents a stark contrast between someone practicing at being an athlete and those who have already made the cut. Three other aspects of visual grammar are germane to this discussion. Sports nutrition advertising very much offers up images of athletes for us to gaze upon. The athletes do not look directly at us, but are most often competing or training, their gazes directed at the action on the field or offscreen, while we watch them play.

A second relevant aspect of visual grammar is the relationship between power and the visual angle. If the view is from a high angle, meaning we are gazing down on the action, then we, the viewer, are in a position of power relative to the represented In nearly all of the commercials in the sample, the reverse was true.

A third grammatical device employed here was the absence of voice for athletes, replaced by the off-screen voiceover of an anonymous, older, white male. This device was observed on websites in the use of a disembodied voice of science providing product information with no identifiable author or source The anonymous nature of the voiceovers only adds to their symbolic position of power over both the athlete and the viewer.

Seventeen of the 20 commercials in the sample featured white, male voiceovers, while none of the Gatorade spots and only three of the Powerade commercials used the device in the sample, suggesting it was no longer successful. Soundtracks employing popular music were most often the choice instead.

The bars came in bright yellow wrappers with a hot pink logo that simultaneously suggested a woman and a butterfly. The events awarded finishers medals in the shape of the logo bedazzled in magenta glitter, and the bibs runners wore were similarly festooned with pink flowery swirls.

For comparison, the product marketed to men produced by the same company, PowerBar, featured a male runner sprinting across a mountain ridge, sweating, shirt and hair whipping in the wind. The language used to describe LUNA bars was also unusual in that there were virtually no references to improved athletic performance. Instead, the label read:. Food feeds our souls, lifts our spirits, nourishes and sustains us.

So, why does finding the right thing to eat sometimes seem so complicated? Contrast this with verbiage for PowerBar Energy Gels, a product targeted at competitive endurance athletes, including cyclists like those pictured on the LUNA site:.

Sodium is the key electrolyte lost in sweat and is the only electrolyte recommended to be replaced during endurance exercise.

Brian Fitzmaurice